Learning centers are areas within the classroom where students engage and interact in different activities. This technique offers a host of benefits as students don´t just “sit and listen” to the teacher as in the traditional approach. They are actively engaged and are able to focus on specific areas of study.
Although it sounds motivating and exciting, it can easily turn into a messy and pointless class unless certain steps are followed by the teacher.
Set up: Classroom arrangement needs to be defined beforehand. How will you set up your learning centers? Will tables be joined? Can your centers be done in groups sitting on the floor? How will students get from one center to the other? These are some of the basic questions you must ask yourself. Prepare your centers and be sure your students have all the materials they will need at hand.
Introduce the centers: Don´t assume students know what to do. Teach the procedures.Before students actually get down to work, you must explain in details what they will be doing in each center and what is expected from them. Ensure students are aware of their responsibility in each center and explain the purpose behind each one. Explore the connections between the centers,so students understand the construction of their learning. Model out what they are supposed to do and remind them of the rules and directions.
Encourage students: Learning centers are student centered based. Encourage students to make choices. Your role is to listen, observe, ask questions, support and help them make connections.
Assessment: Students tend to stay on task when they know their work will be reviewed or when there is a purpose for the activities.You can ask them to hand in papers, have them write their work in a journal, or schedule a presentation.
As students work in centers, they learn to work independently as well as cooperatively. It takes preparation time and clear objectives as you have to know what skills and strategies you want to work on. But the outcome is amazing.
Benefits when working in centers:
So go out and adventure yourself and watch while you students get motivated and actually enjoy classes! Have fun!